After the National Library our class visited the Central Library just across the street. The difference here is that the Central Library is a public lending library, not a depository library. The Web Site presents the library as more modern than others we have visited in the U.K in terms of online resources and availability. On the tour, however, we were shown the living card catalog. Online they offer "some things you can't find on google" especially in terms of business resources (http://yourlibrary.edinburgh.gov.uk/libraries-mean-business). I thought this was interesting because at home I frequent a business resource center http://www.millerbusinesscenter.org/bizlink.html through a local public library, and it has been very valuable. According to one librarian, the government is trying to get the general public to use the internet for an array of services, and is accomplishing the task of teaching "web 2" through local libraries.
The tour was very thorough and offered a behind-the-scenes view of a busy library. There are over 38 different book groups that are active at this location. Librarians participate in continuing education called Front Line- a three year online training program. Volunteers make personal house calls to patrons that are home-bound. The library collaborates with many organizations like the Storytelling Center and the Scottish Book Trust to expand the library environment and connect with the public.
Special Collections material is held in the Edinburgh Room, Fine Art, Music, Reference and Scottish Departments of the Central Library building. The history of Scotland is represented through rare or unique books, manuscripts, illustrations and photos. On our tour we were shown some rare children's books, however it was a very quick glimpse and they were behind closed doors again.
Most preservation work is out sourced. There is no conservation studio in the library, which is generally the case in a public library of this type. To conserve items, they are placed in acid free boxes or envelopes to prevent wear and tear. Certain items can not circulate although most special collections can be utilized in the library reading rooms. Special collections does not always mean ancient items, but can include materials right up until today that are rare or unique.
It doesn't seem like much has changed since last year, but then again where improvements are taking place- it is behind the scenes in terms of professional training and online with collection development and cataloging. In the music library I saw a sign for LGBT Glee; which I have never seen anything like it before. Sounds like a very interesting program and a good way to draw in more diverse members of the public.
Visit http://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/internet/leisure/libraries/your_nearest_library/Central%20Library to find out more information on their services.